Instruments & Gear: Instrument Demos

2005 Martin Custom Shop OM

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Teja Gerken demonstrates his custom OM.

by Teja Gerken
July 24, 2014

After looking for a great OM-style guitar to use for playing fingerstyle for a few years, I decided to order a guitar from Martin’s custom shop in 2005. Although there are many excellent choices offered by smaller companies, I’d never owned a Martin-style guitar, and I figured that I might as well have my guitar made in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. With the help of Martin’s Dick Boak and Tim Teel, I designed a guitar that has turned out to be an excellent instrument for my needs. Even though the guitar may not look like it has a lot of custom features, the combination of specs differentiates it significantly from anything in Martin’s stock line of OMs.

Having played numerous OMs from various makers over the years, I knew almost exactly what I wanted when I first started talking with Boak about my order. My requirements included a cutaway; wide, 2 5/32-inch string-spacing at the saddle; and a rounded, rather than a vintage-style V, neck profile. I knew I wanted rosewood for the guitar’s back and sides, and between the relative affordability and Boak’s promise to personally select a high-grade set from Martin’s vast reserves of Indian rosewood, I happily agreed to this choice. Tim Teel suggested the use of Adirondack spruce for the top. The bridge and plain (no inlay) fingerboard are ebony.

The resulting guitar has been a great instrument for me. With its wide string spacing and comfortable neck dimensions, it is the most playable guitar I own. The guitar has a somewhat “dark” sound, though it’s well balanced throughout its tonal range. It responds well to a soft fingerstyle touch, but also doesn’t mind if it’s attacked a little harder with a flatpick. In other words, I can confidently use it for any situation that calls for a flattop steel-string guitar. I have an LR Baggs Dual Source pickup system installed, which consists of a Ribbon Transducer pickup under the saddle and an internal mic. The guitar has been refretted by San Francisco luthier Alan Perlman.

SPECS: 000 body with 14-fret neck. Solid Adirondack spruce top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut-width. Waverly tuning machines.

Tags: Guitar
Category: Instruments & Gear

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